After the successful trials of digital radio broadcasting technologies in South Africa, communications minister, Nomvula Mokonyane has said that she will issue a policy directive to the regulator.
State-owned broadcasting signal distributor Sentech and other industry role players have successfully tested both digital audio broadcasting (DAB+) and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) technologies in recent years. DAB+ is essentially a digital alternative to analogue FM broadcasts, while DRM is broadly seen as an alternative to medium-wave and shortwave transmissions.
“Based on the report from the trials, we share the belief that the South African broadcasting market is fertile for the introduction of digital radio,” Mokonyane said at a press conference in Pretoria.
“For us, this is critical given the congestion of the FM frequencies in regional markets such as Gauteng,” the minister said. “The introduction of digital radio will allow for industry growth and increase diversity.”
It is unlikely, however, that analogue radio services will be switched off anytime soon. Millions of receivers, including radios and cellular handsets, in use by South Africans, are unable to receive digital radio broadcasts. It will likely be many years before digital receivers reach any sort of mass adoption in South Africa.